Fading Reds lose eighth straight


CHICAGO (AP) -- Delino DeShields hasn't contributed much to the
Chicago Cubs this season. But he came up with a big hit Monday

DeShields hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning and the
Chicago bats broke through late in the game as the Cubs handed the
Cincinnati Reds their eighth straight loss, 6-4 Monday night.

"Delino DeShields keeps coming along, coming along and getting
better every day,'' Cubs manager Don Baylor said. "Tonight he hits
a big home run for us.''

DeShields homer was just his third this season. With two hits,
he raised his batting average to .203.

Trailing 2-1 in the seventh, the Cubs took control of the game
in the seventh with an RBI double by Roosevelt Brown off Scott
Williamson (2-2) and DeShields' homer.

Chicago added two runs in the eighth on an RBI single by Bill
Mueller and a sacrifice fly by Angel Echevarria. The Cubs have won
three straight games.

"A couple of guys like Angel Echevarria and Roosevelt Brown
also came of the bench for us tonight,'' Baylor said.

Jeff Fassero (2-5) got two outs for the win. Antonio Alfonseca
pitched the ninth, allowing a sacrifice fly to Reggie Taylor that
just missed being a game-tying home run. Alfonseca got his 11th
save in 13 opportunities.

The Reds' longest losing streak of the season has dropped them
from first place to three games behind St. Louis in the NL Central.

"I don't know if I can figure it,'' Williamson said. "I made a
decent pitch to Roosevelt Brown, but I got a bad break out there
and he hit it hard. I got a little mad and threw the first fastball
to Delino right down the middle basically and he hit it out.''

The late offense for the Cubs salvaged rookie Mark Prior's solid
start. Prior retired 14 of the first 15 batters and faced the
minimum 15 through five innings. He allowed two runs and four hits
in 6 2-3 innings.

"Overall, I was pleased,'' Prior said. "In one inning I gave
up two runs when I made some dumb mistakes. My goal is to give the
team a chance to win and I think I did that.''

Reds starter Elmer Dessens allowed one run and six hits in six
innings, lowering his ER to 2.56, fourth best in the National

After loading the bases with none out in the fourth, the Cubs
managed only one run on Moises Alou's double-play grounder.

Barry Larkin hit a sacrifice fly and Sean Casey had a
run-scoring groundout in the sixth inning to give Cincinnati a 2-1
lead. But that's all the Reds could get off Prior.

"That's as good as he's thrown,'' Baylor said. "Instead of
poking around the strike zone, he went right at them tonight. With
his stuff, it's good enough that he can challenge guys.''

Juan Encarnacion's RBI single in the eighth cut the lead to

Game notes
Reds OF Ken Griffey Jr. missed the game with a sore right
hamstring muscle and is day to day. Griffey sustained the injury,
an aggravation of an earlier strain, Sunday against Oakland. It
isn't considered serious. ... Cubs closer Tom Gordon (torn right
shoulder muscle) made his second rehab appearance Monday, working 1
2-3 innings for Class-A Daytona.